Daniel Island Historical Society  

Student Essay Contest 2021

Overview: Daniel Island Historical Society is launching our 2nd Annual Student Essay Contest. This initiative is meant to reach out to area students with encouragement to better appreciate the study of history and to recognize their own connections to it. We promote civic engagement, and we support the exploration of our collective history and the shared experiences and memories of Daniel Island.

We are pleased to announce the details of this year’s essay contest for high school students attending school or residing in the 29492 ZIP code. The essay contest is open to students enrolled in grades 9-12. Eligible students need not attend school on Daniel Island itself. See additional details below.

Students will exercise academic writing and historical thinking skills as they explore the interconnectedness of their lives with the past.

Essay Prompt: A winning essay will address all of the following questions directly.

  • How has the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted life on Daniel Island in the past year?
  • What inspiration can you draw from American history (from specific events or time periods) that might teach us about the power of perseverance through hardship?
  • How do you imagine your experience — and our collective experience of COVID-19 —   will be understood by future historians?
  • What insights about life in the COVID-19 pandemic would you like to share with these future historians now?

Contest Rules & Criteria

•    Eligible student participants must currently be enrolled in school in grades 9-12, and reside in the 29492 ZIP code, or attend school in the ZIP code (even if they live elsewhere). For students residing within the 29492 ZIP code, students may attend any school, whether the school is on Daniel Island, in downtown Charleston, or elsewhere.

•    Essays must be between 500-1,000 words in length, include a title page, works cited page, and a brief personal biography.

•    The essay title page must indicate the name, grade, and school for each student, and the name of your history or social studies teacher-mentor.

•    Students must consult primary and secondary sources and cite them in MLA format. 1 primary source and 1 secondary source are required in advancing the ideas of each essay.

•    Essays will be submitted in PDF format via email by the close of April 30, 2021.

•    A grading rubric will be made available upon request, detailing the criteria upon which each student essay will be evaluated.

Additional Guidelines

The title page, works cited, and applicant’s personal biography should be listed on separate pages. No reference to the applicant’s name or information should be part of the essay pages or works cited page.

1) Title Page – The title page should include the following:

•    Title of the Essay
•    Applicant’s name, grade, address, phone number & email
•    Applicant’s high school’s name, address & phone number

2) Essay Pages – The essay and accompanying parts will feature these required elements:

•    Essay will be a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1,000 words (excluding title page,  works cited page and personal biography)
•    12-point Times New Roman font•    Double-spaced
•    1” margins on all sides
•    Essay pages are numbered

3) Works Cited page must include:

•    Citations in the essay and references to the works cited must be in accordance with the MLA Manual of Style.

4) Student’s Personal Biography page – The personal biography will:

•    Be limited to one page
•    Include a description of any academic awards and achievements, school activities, or community service.

Criteria for Assessment

Essays which meet the criteria above will be accepted and judged equally on the following criteria: 
•    Historical interpretation 
•    Clarity of thought 

•    Persuasiveness of argument 
•    Organization and proven topic 
•    Grammar and spelling 
•    Documentation and use of sources

In writing your essay you may want to begin with a primary source from which to commence your examination. That primary source might be an old deed to property, an archived newspaper article, a letter between friends, a business license, or a bill of sale. You might also start with an old photograph, a piece of art, found artifacts, a church recipe, or vintage clothing. Based on that primary source, you should ask: What can we surmise about Daniel Island’s past based on this source? How does this primary source speak to our understanding of history today?

Secondary sources such as articles or books written by experts and historians from more recent times summarize and interpret earlier historical periods and topics that will help you better understand the relevant history that you are exploring. Look for these sources online or at a local library.

Research Instructions

Consult your school library, the Berkeley County or Charleston County Libraries, or other local libraries. Work with your teachers in History, English, and Social Studies, and make use of the Daniel Island Historical Society website for resources to help you respond to the prompt: https://dihistoricalsociety.com.

Timeline & Dates

Essays must be submitted via email in PDF format by April 30, 2021.

The winning student essays will be announced by May 31, Memorial Day, 2021.

Prizes Awarded

1st Prize is $350, 2nd Prize is $100, and 3rd Prize is $50.

Each student author of the 3 winning essays will also receive a copy of John Conley’s book, Daniel Island Unearthed: An Archaeological Field Guide To Daniel Island’s Wando River Coastline.

John Conley grew up and resided on Daniel Island.He graduated from high school in 2019,  and he is currently pursuing university studies in Great Britain.

Contact Us: Reach out to us with your questions about the essay contest at the email address below.

Essays should be submitted in PDF format to: DIHISTORICALSOCIETY@GMAIL.COM